PTC: OUR RATIONALE FOR TRAINING
(NB this page is currently being updated to incorporate information about the optional MA Theology)
The background – Scotland in the 21st Century
Scotland is now reckoned the most secular country in the UK. For the gospel to be brought to the nation, large numbers of new churches and well trained gospel workers are required. The Cornhill Training Course (CTC) and the Pastors’ Training Course (PTC) exist to help churches raise up the next generation of gospel workers for Scotland.
Two core convictions
Two convictions drive the shape of the training we offer. Two necessary implications follow from these.
Historically there has been a significant disconnection between these convictions and their implications, especially the second set. There is general agreement that the local church is crucial in God’s plans, yet local churches have rarely been active training centres, and many churches view ministry training as something that happens primarily in theological college, rather than in congregational life. The consequences of this have been profoundly negative:
Churches and Ministers have not recognised their responsibility to train gospel workers, and have little confidence that they are competent to train. We have trained far too few workers.
Candidates for pastoral ministry may not have been trained and tested in the real life of a church. We have sometimes encouraged people into ministries for which they are ill-suited.
Theological training institutions have often been detached from the practice of ministry and failed to connect theological learning and ministry competence.
The attrition rate among ministers has been very high, in part because ongoing training and development have not been a normal part of church life.
Perhaps most significantly, because churches have lacked a training culture congregations have been poorly equipped for their work in the world.
In PTC our ultimate goal is not the training of pastors, but the emergence of growing numbers of training churches in which gospel ministry is multiplied, and through which the nation can be reached.
Our part in this is to support the training of pastors who will not only train other pastors, but build churches in which a culture of ongoing training is deeply embedded in church life at every level.
We aim to equip
- Competent workers who will live godly lives, proclaim the gospel clearly, teach rightly, pastor wisely, think theologically, train congregations and develop other gospel workers
- A wider range of gospel workers than has traditionally been produced
- Self-educators who will continue to develop themselves and others long term.
OUR MODEL FOR TRAINING
We are conducting a model of on-the-job training where stretching theology and everyday ministry are brought together as closely as possible. For this to happen we have an A,B,C approach: a three-legged stool where each leg is essential for a properly balanced training.
Let’s examine these in turn:
CHURCHES – for example, entrusting, experience, evaluation
Churches are our first priority and our ultimate goal is to have growing numbers of training churches throughout Scotland. Pastors who will excel in ministries which equip churches for mission can be trained effectively only in churches which:
Exemplify real expository ministry, and embrace a culture of training, and therefore
Entrust those in training with significant preaching and ministry work, so as to gain
Experience so they grow in competence and confidence, whilst ongoing
Evaluation of such ministries gives everyone confidence to send such trained and experienced people into senior pastoral roles.
BROTHERS – a community for engagement, encouragement, establishing
We want pastors in training to be wrestling with theology and ministry issues as they:
Engage with peers, and experienced working pastors, to sharpen thinking and practice
Encourage one another in learning together, and in their various ministries, and so
Establish a network of deep ministry relationships for life-long friendship and accountability.
ACADEMY – a curriculum for excellence, exposition, equipping
We pool resources to teach leaders in such a way that they will:
Excel in ministry – which is centred on
Exposition of the Scriptures, which in turn is geared towards
Equipping others (all the saints) for the tasks of ministry.
This is very different from the traditional model of theological education, where excellence is often defined merely by academic and institutional standards rather than by what will equip the church for its ministries.
Represented diagrammatically, our desire for the course is
THE SHAPE OF THE COURSE
In order to achieve this the course has three elements:
A core curriculum
Our core curriculum is the Cornhill Training Course, an intensive programme in understanding and teaching the Bible, usually conducted over two years. Becoming competent in these areas is the heart of training for any word ministry. CTC apprenticeships provide the ideal setting for training in the local church.
A consolidating curriculum
The Pastors’ Training Course is a three-year, mixed mode (classroom, home study, online via Third Mill and the optional MA in Theology from Union College Belfast) programme of further theological training for those in assistant ministry roles. The course majors on connecting theology and ministry, on character formation, and on continuing development of ministry skills and competence forged through both the learning community and real ministry experience in supervised church work. The development of supportive ministry relationships among course members is a key element of the course.
A continuing curriculum
Beyond PTC we encourage an open door culture of ongoing training and support, where pastors in churches at all stages of life and ministry can continue to attend classroom days and residential conferences and so have continuing access to the academy and to a network of supportive relationship.
THE PASTORS’ TRAINING COURSE (PTC)
Trainee ministers joining PTC will have completed the Cornhill Training Course (or equivalent) usually combined with an apprenticeship in a training church. They will normally be employed full-time in a supervised ‘Assistant Minister’ or ‘Minister in Training’ role in a supportive church.
PTC is a three-year course, requiring study a day per week during university terms. We alternate ‘home study days’ with ‘classroom days.’
As much as possible we ‘flip the classroom.’ Home study days are used for knowledge acquisition through a carefully selected core curriculum, freeing up the valuable classroom time for exploring the personal and ministry significance of what has been studied. This is a very effective mode of learning, guaranteeing that the implications of theological truth are properly explored. The flexibility of this model also allows trainees to raise issues which can be explored in some depth.
Each term we have a ‘residential week’ of intensive teaching and study led by an outstanding visiting speaker. These cover a range of ministry-related and theological topics.
We aim to work closely with trainees and their supervisors and churches. This is vital if character and gifts are to be shaped for a lifetime of ministry. Close partnership enables problems to be identified early, weaknesses to be worked on and strengths to be promoted. Both churches and their leaders should have a strong commitment to this training partnership.
The taught curriculum is designed to help ministry trainees think theologically about ministry, be ministry-minded with theology, and become life-long self-educators. Trainees follow a three-year, cycling, modular programme with strong emphases on theological rigour, ministry and character development. After an induction programme, new trainees join the course at the current stage of the cycle.
The Cornhill course provides an intensive grounding in Bible books, genres, biblical theology, and exposition. PTC builds on this foundation, continuing the strong emphasis on expository ministry, but focusing more particularly on theological, ministry and leadership-related topics.
Each term we aim to cover a major theological field broadly and do in-depth work on a contemporary issue within that field. Trainees are required to develop critical skills and analyse theological arguments. Alongside this we aim to study ministry topics in some depth.
Each year trainees are given a year-long ministry-related project to conduct. Classroom input to this project is provided at various points during the year.
The taught curriculum is developed year by year in response to various factors including the needs of trainees and churches, and contemporary theological issues. Recently we have begun to make greater use of Third Mill material which not only strengthens our core programme but also gives great flexibility for further study if trainees have time to go beyond core requirements.
Examples from the latest Core Curriculum cycle in more detail:
There is a short induction course for trainees entering PTC. Pre-course study includes the “Building Your Theology”, “Building Systematic Theology” and “Building Biblical Theology” modules from Third Mill.
Major theological fields
We undertake significant treatments of Classical theism, the Trinity, and Christology. In-depth work includes a biblical and theological critique of Open Theism, and an analysis of the history and the theological and human implications of the early Christological heresies.
Major ministry issues
We explore how to develop a biblical pattern of church ministry through discussion of “The Trellis and the Vine” (Colin Marshall and Tony Payne). In particular we focus on developing an active ministry and training culture throughout congregational life.
Trainees conduct an analysis of the training needs of their church or particular sphere of ministry and design a sustainable programme of biblical and ministry education to meet these needs.
Advanced preaching module: Trainees consider how to communicate the message of Isaiah in a church teaching programme.
Major theological fields
We explore soteriology, the theology of Acts, and the ministry of Paul. In-depth work is done on union with Christ, justification, the New Perspective on Paul, and the work of NT Wright.
Major ministry issues
We spend time considering the mission of the church in the world. We also conduct an analysis and discussion of 2 Timothy: the reason for its writing, the way Paul deals with the issues, and the implications for contemporary ministry.
Advanced preaching module. Trainees study the book of Jonah in depth and prepare a sermon series on the book.
Major theological fields
A careful examination of eschatology in the Bible and of the doctrine of scripture. We do detailed work on the consequences of some of the shortcomings of traditional presentations of eschatology for systematic thinking and for Christian living. We also consider how the Bible’s eschatology impacts on environmentalism. We analyse the eschatology of Rob Bell.
Major ministry issues
We explore how to teach and to model the implications of the doctrine of scripture in church. We spend time considering the mission of the church in the world. We also conduct an analysis and discussion of 2 Timothy: the reason for its writing, the way Paul deals with the issues, and the implications for contemporary ministry and ministry training. A module on the personal life of the pastor is based on Zack Eswine’s, The Imperfect Pastor.
Advanced preaching modules: Trainees study 1 John and how this difficult letter might be taught. We consider the importance of eschatology in John’s refutation of the Antichrists and the implications of this for normal church ministry and preaching.
We consider the place of doctrinal preaching series in the diet of a church and design short doctrinal series on a range of important topics.
OTHER FEATURES OF THE COURSE
Residential and Study Weeks
Once each term PTC trainees come together for a focused study week. In recent years teachers at these weeks have included:
- Philip Jensen
- Simon Manchester
- David Jackman
- Tim Ward
- Peter Adam
- John Stephens
- Jonny Woodrow
- Richard Pratt
An important part of each study week is the time spent getting to know the speaker and learning from their experience in ministry in an informal social setting. Time is also set aside to pray together, eat together and for a fun trip out together, giving opportunity to form and cement deep friendships.
Former PTC trainees and those in the early years of their ministry regularly join the class for the residential weeks bringing the wealth of their experience to the class as well as encouraging their own continuing learning.
We regularly welcome visiting speakers to PTC classroom days. Some of these contribute each year on a three-year cycle dealing with particularly important topics. Our regular visitors are Jonny Woodrow (Islam and revelation/the doctrine of God/salvation), Jonathan Clark (the church and world mission), Rory Bell (youth and children’s work) and John Stevens (issues in contemporary church leadership).
For trainees who wish to study Greek and /or Hebrew we are happy to facilitate and support enrolment with a suitable online provider and seminars.
THE DIRECTOR OF THE PASTORS’ TRAINING COURSE
Dr Andy Gemmill is Director of the Pastors’ Training Course. Andy delivers much of the teaching and is in regular touch with trainees and the ministers they work with.
Andy has an extensive ministry experience. He left a career in Respiratory Medicine to join the staff of St Helen’s Bishopsgate working with Dick Lucas. He went on to be Assistant Pastor at Spicer Street Church in St Albans, and then was for 12 years Senior Pastor of Beeston Evangelical Free Church in Nottingham. He joined the Cornhill staff as Co-director of the Cornhill Training Course (Scotland) in 2011.
THIRD MILLENNIUM MINISTRIES PARTNERSHIP
From the start of the Pastors’ Training Course we have had a close relationship with Dr Richard L Pratt and Third Millennium Ministries.
Richard Pratt is Co-Founder and President of Third Millennium Ministries. He served as Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary for more than 20 years and was chair of the Old Testament department. An ordained minister, Dr Pratt travels extensively to evangelise and teach. He studied at Westminster Theological Seminary, received his MDiv from Union Theological Seminary, and earned his ThD in Old Testament Studies from Harvard University.
Third Millennium Ministries is a nonprofit Christian organisation dedicated to providing “Biblical Education. For the World. For Free”. In response to the growing global need for sound, biblically-based Christian leadership training, they are writing, designing, and producing a user-friendly, donor-supported, multimedia seminary curriculum in five major languages (English, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, and Arabic) and distributing it freely.
The PTC course has increasingly benefited by using resources from Third Mill to deliver our teaching curriculum. We have recently set up our own Cornhill e-learning website using the Moodle platform to provide access material and assessments for our trainees.
The current Third Mill Modules which our trainees study include:
CTC Year 1 Reading Weeks
- The Apostles’ Creed
- Kingdom, Covenants & Canon of the Old Testament
CTC Year 2 Reading Weeks
- Kingdom & Covenants in the New Testament
- The Book of Acts
- Building Your Theology
- Building Systematic Theology
- Building Biblical Theology
YEAR A – Doctrine of God, Jesus & Trinity
- We Believe in God
- He Gave Us Prophets
- The Wisdom of Hosea
- We Believe in Jesus
- The Doctrine of the Trinity
YEAR B – Soteriology, Acts & Mission of Church
- The Gospels
- Introduction to the Pentateuch
- Making Biblical Decisions
- He Gave Us Scripture: Foundations of Interpretation
- The Epistle of James
- The Book of Hebrews
YEAR C – Eschatology & Doctrine of Scripture
- Your Kingdom Come: The Doctrine of Eschatology
- We Believe in the Holy Spirit
- The Heart of Paul’s Theology
- Paul’s Prison Epistles
- The Book of Revelation
“We are grateful to join with Cornhill Scotland in developing a new generation of church leaders. For many years, Cornhill Scotland has led the way by facilitating a church-based training program. We are delighted to support their efforts with a multimedia seminary curriculum taught by over 350 seminary professors from around the world. The need for well-trained church leaders is great. And the time is now.”
Richard L. Pratt, Jr.
CORNHILL SCOTLAND: 5 YEAR DIPLOMA IN MINISTRY
Ministry trainees who have successfully completed the five-year programme will be awarded the Cornhill Diploma in Ministry. The Diploma will be joint recognition, by the Church and Cornhill, that the Ministry Trainee has fulfilled the requirements of the CTC and PTC and has been tested and approved in their conduct of ministry by the local training church. They will be ready to take on the responsibilities of ministry, for which they are suited, in the wider church.
A diploma with distinction may be awarded to trainees with outstanding performance throughout the course and church placement, and who have completed all of the Third Mill courses.
FORMER MINISTRY TRAINEES AND WHERE THEY ARE NOW
PTC has been running since 2011. Those who have completed the course are in a wide range of fruitful ministries:
- Rev Garry Brotherston Minister, Bishopbriggs Free Church
- Rev Rupert Hunt-Taylor Minister, Edinburgh North Church
- Mr Terry McCutcheon Director, Hope for Glasgow
- Mr Daniel McKinlay Student Minister, NCA Church, Narembu, Sydney
- Mr Simm Jemmett Church Leader, Emmanuel Church, Bristol
- Rev Philip Copeland Assistant Minister, The Tron, Glasgow
- Rev Oliver Ward Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Sidmouth
- Rev Paul Brennan Associate Minister, The Tron Church, Glasgow
- Rev Nathan Owens Minister, Maxwell Church, Kilmaurs
- Rev Josh Johnston Assistant Minister, The Tron Church, Glasgow
- Mr James Latter Working with Christian Rehab, undergoing further training
- Mr Kieran McKnight Immanuel Church, Fujairah, UAE
- Mr Dougie Simpson Associate Pastor, Deeside Christian Fellowship
- Rev Richard Woods Pastor, Seagate Evangelical Church, Troon
WHAT FORMER TRAINEES SAY ABOUT PTC…
Garry Brotherston, Minister, Bishopbriggs Free Church
“PTC does what it says on the tin. It wasn’t training people to be great theologians or anything like that, it was training people to be pastors, which I think Scotland, and the UK needs more than anything.”
“Having residential weeks with men who have been in pastoral ministry for a long time, whether David Jackman, Alistair Begg, Dick Lucas, Don Carson and Richard Pratt, Dale Ralph Davis, men like that, – all these men know what it is like to be in pastoral ministry, they know what like it is when the rubber hits the road, it’s not just theoretical stuff that you can learn in a seminary, it is actually the real thing that you’re going to face… …That’s what I found most helpful about it and that’s what’s helping me in pastoral ministry now.”
Rupert Hunt Taylor, Minister of Edinburgh North Church
“For me the most valuable thing it provided was a mentoring and support network for men in the early years of pastoring.”
“And alongside all of this, our days together gave us time to be stretched and keep fresh. PTC is an excellent way to bridge the gap between the initial stages of learning to teach the Bible, and the lifelong process of theological education. The more formal theological training I’ve done since PTC, the more I’ve appreciated the real ministry training I received there. There are many routes to the former. The latter is hard to come by, and best learnt through time and experience.”
Phil Copeland, Location Pastor, The Tron at Queen’s Park, Glasgow
“The course enabled me to carry on theological training without being taken out of the everyday life and ministry of the local church.”
“One of the greatest strengths of PTC is the fact that all those who teach in class have a wealth of experience of local church pastoral ministry. Thus, our teachers were able to apply the deep theological truths and doctrines to the life of the local church. The classes were not stale exercises in downloading dull and dry academic information!”
“These residential weeks also helped me to cultivate lasting and deep friendships with other young men in ministry.”
Nathan Owens, Minister, Maxwell United Free Church, Kilmaurs
“What I find so helpful about my time spent at PTC is that it forces me to apply theological rigour and thinking to everyday pastoral situations I encounter.”
“PTC provided a grounded, well-thought-through, robust-yet-malleable-in-the-right-places theological framework that has already, and will continue to, stand me in good stead in my ministry. I learned things at PTC that I did not learn at Bible College, my Biblical knowledge has grown, as has my love for Jesus and His Word.”
Richard Woods, Minister of Seagate Evangelical Church, Troon
“The balanced approach of bringing deep theological thought and applying it directly to the practical every day reality of my ongoing ministry was transformative for me and for my work. It helped me to understand that even small changes of focus from the Pastor can have a really significant impact on the overall life of the congregation.”
WHAT SENIOR PASTORS SAY ABOUT PTC…
William Philip, Minister, The Tron Church Glasgow
Our churches need leaders, both now and for the future, whose gifting by the Lord is both tested and trained. The best way (and in my view the only way) this can happen effectively and adequately, is for leadership to be forged on the anvil, and in the fires, of real ministry work, and under the direction and example of those whom developing leaders work alongside as trusted overseers, mentors and encouragers. The principal trainers for ministry will also shape the vision, ethos, and practical focus of these ministries permanently. It is therefore vitally important that the real needs of local churches, and those actively engaged in effective ministries within them, do the shaping, and not others who are at a distance institutionally and academically, as has so often been the case in the past.
As early adopters, and therefore among the principal beneficiaries, we have seen first hand how the PTC model of training has delivered excellence in precisely this way. The vital partnership of churches, training brothers in ministry, supported by the academic rigour of the continuing curriculum (the basic ‘ABC’ of training) has enabled us to ordain pastoral staff with confidence that they are ‘match fit’ from the starting whistle, but also that they have been trained to be ongoing trainers of themselves and their churches, and so to multiply ministry-multiplying ministries. Without this kind of ministry formation, the churches in Scotland have a bleak future; with it, who knows what the Lord could not do in the years to come?
Jon Gemmell, Associate Director Conferences and Resources, The Proclamation Trust
“People who can faithfully and dynamically preach and teach God’s Word in the local church are the most precious resource in the World. Therefore, a key responsibility we have is to identify, train, support and grow people who will do this vital work. The NT model is one of life on life, in church, on-the-job-training and from my own experience this method has been by far the most helpful training I have received. It is thrilling to see the continuing development of the Pastors’ Training Course and I cannot wait to see the fruit that it bears and the strengthening that results for the church. In the UK the spiritual need is enormous and the need for sharp, targeted and Bible saturated training is immense. My hope and prayer is that PTC will flourish and bring great glory to Jesus Christ through thriving ministries as more and more people are ably equipped for pastoral roles.”